On the right you will see the graph showing the numbers of ideas submitted to the Secretary of Defense’s INVEST Program. INVEST being the acronym for INovation for new Value, Efficiency and Savings Tomorrow. On AFN the commercials come on every hour, with the SECDEF talking about why we need new ideas, the importance to the average service member and so on.
As a Navy, we’re holding a respectable fourth place, considering the size difference between the various branches, and the amount of time the Air Force spends in their chairs (lol). But, together as the Navy and Marine Corps Team, we’re in a close second to the Army, having a combined number of submissions of 506 to the Army’s 528. I think we can do better, I think we need to as well.
Bottled water. It’s all you got to drink out here, and there are tons of it. One of the things you’re told when first handed a bottled water is how much they supposedly cost. I’ve heard claims of $2.75 a bottle to $2.00 a bottle. I, more or less, believe the cost estimates. Another thing you come to be told after a month or so in the ‘Stan is how much YOU cost for just having your boots on the ground–around $1,000,000 dollars for the year total ownership cost is the common number cited at the smoke pit.
That last figure was verified for me by the CSBA analysis of the FY 2011 budget (h/t CDR Sal). But, actually places how much I cost in FY10 at just below $2,000,000 dollars.
It’s hard, real hard to sit here and think about what I do for this war effort costing that much. I know I am not worth that much money spent. You could get a Master Chief Yeoman out here doing my job and they wouldn’t produce a product worth two million-ish for a years worth of work. The only person out here that I can justify that cost for are those actually putting rounds down range–the guys actually fighting this war. But, the kicker is, those guys actually winning this war don’t live as comfortably as I do. Those guys, more often than not, are in much more austere FOBs (Forward Operating Base) than I am in Kandahar.
I’ve submitted to the SECDEF that I could do my job just as well somewhere outside of Afghanistan than I can actually here in Afghanistan. I process awards for units who’s admin office is just across the street from me. Know how I get the work from them? Email. The only time I really see them face-to-face is when I am dropping off their completed awards or they are picking them up from me. Units at other FOBs, more often than not, I mail the awards to them. So… Why am I here again? Why do I actually need to be in Afghanistan sucking up two million dollars of the tax payers money?
The Solution. Take the real estate that is about to become vacant in Suffolk that has all the connectivity I could need to communicate with S/R/G/N/J/CJ-1s (yes, there are that many designations for offices like mine) here in Afghanistan. Put my work schedule in Suffolk to match Afghan local time. Make the unit in Suffolk joint so as to have a working knowledge of awards procedures for each branch, and process their awards there and mail them to the unit in Afghanistan, or to their home station to be awarded upon home coming. Maintain the Admin shops in Afghanistan (O-5 command and smaller) to be able to process spot awards, and keep me from costing so much! I won’t be earning Imminent Danger/Hostile Fire pay, I won’t be getting War Zone Tax Exclusion, I won’t be getting Hazardous Duty Pay, none of that; let alone the cost of giving me this funny looking Army uniform and gear. One less admin person out here is one more war fighter who could be out here.
So, that’s my idea–what I told the SECDEF. Why don’t you tell the Secretary your idea? For us REMFs (link not for the faint of heart) and POGs (Personnel Other than Grunt), that may just be the best way we can help win this war.